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Penn State Mont Alto health fair offers information on variety of topics

In addition to educational booths, the event featured Penn State's Life Lion helicopter, ambulances and fire engines

April 09, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Penn State Mont Alto nursing student Megan Gialanella helps 5-year-old Alyssa Flasher of Waynesboro, Pa., complete the "Build a Food Pyramid" Saturday at the campus' fifth annual Pediatric & Community Health Fair.
By Roxann Miller, Staff Writer

MONT ALTO, Pa. — About 100 Penn State Mont Alto nursing students manned booths at the campus' fifth annual Pediatric & Community Health Fair to educate the community about living well.

"This year, we've added the community piece. For the last four years, the health fair focused on pediatric health. But now, it's from birth to geriatrics," event chairwoman Susan Lange said.

The health fair featured more than 25 booths providing information on a variety of topics including seat belt safety, gun safety, fire safety, allergies, nutrition and smoking cessation.

"It provides the community with various educational health and life topics," Lange said. "We are helping to educate the community."

About 500 community members attended the free health fair held in the campus' Multipurpose Activities Center.

In addition to educational booths, the event featured the Nittany Lion, Crackers the Clown, Penn State's Life Lion helicopter, ambulances, fire engines, puppet shows and parachute games.

Nursing student Christine Otto handed out literature at the nutrition booth.

"With the fast-food life that we have, a lot of people feel, 'Let's just drive through McDonald's,' instead of thinking about the nutritional value of that. It's very high in fat content to stop at a fast-food restaurant versus packing yourself a little bag of fruits and veggies that you can eat in the car if you get hungry," Otto said. "Planning your meals ahead is a better way of keeping your weight under control. It helps with diabetes. It helps with hypertension and general overall health and well-being."

She is passionate about getting the word out about good nutrition.

"If you can teach the adult what proper nutrition is and to make proper choices for a better lifestyle, then they will pass that on to their kids," Otto said.

Brandy Bitner of Greencastle, Pa., tried not to laugh as she watched her 9-year-old son, Riley, learn a serious lesson about the dangers of drinking and driving.

Before putting on the DUI simulation goggles, Riley walked the yellow line without faltering. But once he put on the thick goggles that blurred his vision, it was a different story.

Angel Garcia, a Pennsylvania State Police trooper and community service officer, conducted the exercise.

"It shows them the dangers of drinking and driving and how alcohol affects the motor skills," Garcia said.

He said the DUI simulation goggles make a person's vision blurry.

"I explain to people that's not what they see when they're intoxicated," Garcia said. "What the goggles simulate are the effects of the alcohol such as the motor skills and their thinking."

Once he put on the goggles, Riley staggered back and forth struggling to stay on his feet.

"It felt like I was going to fall down," Riley said. "I learned never to drink."

For Bitner, it was mission accomplished, even though she came to the health fair for other reasons.

"We learned about so much. This is our first year coming, and we learned about alcohol impairment, car seat safety and nutritional benefits. This is very educational," Bitner said.

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